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Musings from Nanyang

So, the 10pm meeting with our European partners came and went. I dashed back from dinner with friends, settled myself to look suitably business like in front of Skype when a text message popped up saying that the people I was to present to had changed their minds and didn’t think that skype was the best way to proceed. They would much rather meet in person!!!

I’m recovered from that now but while I’m on the topic of our European bid it’s a good opportunity to ask for your help. The project is called,’Up Straw’ and the purpose of it is to increase the percentage of public buildings built out of straw in Europe. Thereby decreasing emissions, saving fuel and increasing health. We’re getting to the stage of the final submission, due in December, and I’m looking for matching funding. If you know of any funders who would be interested in joining us please email me eileen@strawworks.co.uk  Thanks.

Another request -the School of Natural Building is putting together a calendar of beautiful strawbale builds for Christmas. Ideally we’re looking for pictures of finished or almost finished houses that our students have worked on. Students, you know who you are and if you have any suitable photos I’d be very grateful if you’d email them to the address above.

Back here in Nanyang I’ve found a yoga class. It takes place every lunchtime so that the lecturers from the university can take part. I’ve exchanged a few business cards in the changing room (never miss an opportunity) and yesterday one of the young biology professors approached me to say that she really didn’t think that straw was strong enough to use as a construction material. She knew of a local company that used straw as a fermentation aid for producing alcohol but certainly not for building. I said that I would bring her a copy of Barb’s book http://strawworks.co.uk/buy-the-book/ then we could discuss it further. She looked pleased but bemused. I’ll keep you informed. I’ve put a pic of the yoga studio below, see the scary fabric and handcuff things? Apparently they are for use during ‘air yoga.’ Happily so far the air yoga teacher has been away in Beijing so we haven’t been introduced to the delights of this yet. I’m hoping she has a long hol.

I’ve been spending a bit of time increasing my Linkedin profile. Does anyone know how to use Linkedin to its full potential ? I’ve started looking to join more groups: green architecture, strawbale building, straw etc. Again (this post is full of requests!) if anyone has any tips, please email them to me.

Barb (my business partner) and I are fellows of the RSA https://www.thersa.org/ and although it’s nice to have the kudos and permission to use the John Adam St headquarters in London as an occasional meeting place we haven’t found much to connect with in the organisation. However, last night my friend Jan Portillo got elected to the board of Trustees, which is great news and we look forward to working more closely with her and the RSA from now on particularly in the area of affordable housing.

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Finally, our Bristol courses are full this weekend but the Cambridge ones due at the end of November still have some places http://strawworks.co.uk/cambridge-preparing-to-build-with-bales/

Just to bring you back to the Chinese theme of this blog I’ll leave you with a picture of the Medical Sage of Nanyang and his mate.

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Final, final stuff…here are my top 10 things I love about straw: smell, texture, insulative properties, the look, the fact that you can shape it, flexibity, strength, the fact that it’s a waste product and is so useful, it’s empowering to work with and it’s natural.

Let me know your top 10 and I’ll list and rank them.

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Categories: bike, blog traffic, books, bookshops, China, Clare Balding, Golden Week, haiku, insulation, low cost housing, Nanyang, natural house building, natural plasters, pioneering building, RSA, Shanghai, Time differences, Top 10 things I love about straw, training for strawbale building, Travel, travel writing, Uncategorized, Working abroad, Writing, writing groups & societies | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Hi from China

I’m in Nanyang in Henan province in China. Allan & I are here for the next 10 months or so. We’re here because Al is teaching at the uni for this academic year.

‘Why are you there?’ I hear you ask? ‘Well, because he is and because we thought we’d like to experience another culture before it got too late and because we wanted to travel a bit.’

It’s a good question though and the answer above is a bit glib and lacks depth. Yesterday, I was moaning a bit to Clair in the Straw Works office (via skype obviously) saying I that I didn’t think I had the best personality to get the most out of this experience. Clair’s response was to suggest I wrote a blog while I was here. I think that was a ploy to stop me going on and on but I’ve decided to take her advice at face value and pick up my existing blog and give it a go.

The name of this blog is ‘Sixty on a Bike’ and it’s still relevant in that I’m still in my 60’s and the uni has given Al and I bikes to get around the campus, which is vast.

With this blog I’m hoping to give you a perspective on working for a UK company from China. Before leaving the UK I wasn’t sure what parts of my job with Straw Works & SNaB I’d be able to do from here. It turns out I can do almost everything. The only thing I can’t do is join Barb in delivering Preparing to Build with Bales one of the theoretical courses we run in the autumn & winter and I’m sad about that because it was fun to do together.

However, to kick off this first blog entry I’ll leave you with a pic of a 17 meter high Buddha – just to set the tone.

Cave carving in Louyang.

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Categories: blog traffic, haiku, middle aged women getting fit, natural house building, natural plasters, pioneering building, strawbale building, strawbale building courses, Tiny houses, training for strawbale building, Travel, travel writing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Jan Portillo for RSA Trustee

I have voted for Jan Portillo to be one of the trustees at the RSA because I think she’ll do a really good job. If there are any Fellows out there who have not had the opportunity to vote, then please do so as time is getting short. Voting ends next Sunday.

Categories: blog traffic, Clare Balding, cool stuff in London, cycling, London, RSA | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pop up Indie bookshop in Horsham, West Sussex

I’ve got a ‘slot’ at Daisy White’s pop up indie bookshop from 11.30-12.30 on Saturday 28th September. I’ll be reading from my book, ‘Changing Gear: a bike ride from Britain to Bulgaria’ and running a haiku workshop. You’ll be surprised to hear that the haiku topic will be cycling.

Horsham is a lovely market town with a great Saturday market, interesting little shops. and lovely cafes.

Why not take some time out on an autumnal morning and join me?

Hope to see you there.

popflyer_horsham_130927_29_Fbk Sept 2013

Categories: bike safety, blog traffic, books, bookshops, Bulgaria, cycle rides, cycling, Cycling holidays, haiku, middle aged women getting fit, pop up indie bookshops, Travel, West Sussex, womens cycling, Writing, writing groups & societies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prudential Ride London

This ride took place last Saturday. It was wonderful to ride alongside the Embankment and past Big Ben on roads which were free of cars. Approx 50,000 people took part. There were 3 stopping off points – Tower Hill, St Paul’s and Green Park where kids could play bike polo, cycle like mad to generate enough power to make themselves a smoothie and/or lie in the  sun and listen to some music.

A child dressed as a crocodile cycling to make a smoothie

A child dressed as a crocodile cycling to make a smoothie

For the first time Al and I got to grips with the Boris Bikes which were great until the end of the day when the booking machines began to break down – I suspect due to overuse.

I almost got a picture of Laura Trott dressed in the Wiggle Honda team strip waiting for her race, but she turned her head at the crucial moment!

A great event and perhaps shades of things to come. I hope so.

St Paul's stop off point

St Paul’s stop off point

Categories: bike safety, blog traffic, books, cool stuff in London, cycle rides, cycling, Cycling holidays, London, middle aged women getting fit, Prudential Ride London, Travel, Uncategorized, womens cycling | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Melt Yourself Down

Yet again this is not about cycling but it is something you should know about. So here goes.

The tickets were a Fathers day present and I was included.  So last Tuesday evening we went to a gig in Islington. I write the word ‘gig’ advisedly! The band playing were called, Melt Yourself Down. I can’t describe the type of music they play, best to watch this clip to get a flavour.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p019dqxl

Despite being an older person I have to say I loved it! The venue admittedly was a bit claustrophobic and I wondered if I’d be able to stay the course. But the music was so engaging and the lead singer, Kushal Gaya so absolutely mesmerising that my worries about not being able to breathe, about where  the fire exits were, about being able to leave when I wanted all paled into insignificance. If you get a chance to go & see Melt Yourself Down I’d advise you to take it.

I have to say however I was so tired yesterday that I couldn’t even be bothered to write this blog…

Categories: blog traffic, books, cool stuff in London, jazz, London, Melt Yourself Down, middle aged women & music, music, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2,000 views on my blog

Who would have thought it? Just over 2.000 people have viewed my blog. Well perhaps not absolutely true because some of those hits were probably me!! Still it sounds impressive and I’m pleased.

By the way if anyone in the North East of England fancies attending an introductory strawbale building or natural plastering course see http://strawworks.co.uk/training/  The courses are running on 6th & 7th June –  fun and informative.

 

Categories: blog traffic, low cost housing, natural house building, natural plasters, strawbale building, strawbale building courses, womens cycling | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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